[caption id="attachment_15326" align="aligncenter" ]The Blue Gate offers carriage rides among its many products and services that delight visitors to its Shipshewana location. The Blue Gate offers carriage rides among its many products and services that delight visitors to its Shipshewana location.[/caption]


By Terry T. Mark

Riegsecker earns state’s highest tourism honor

Mel Riegsecker, the founder of Blue Gate Hospitality, was humbled by his selection as the 2017 recipient of the Will Koch Tourism Leadership Award, the most prestigious honor in the state of Indiana in the tourism field.

“Make sure that the people that come to your business are treated well, and when they’re there, make sure that things are nice and clean and attractive. If you can get those two things right, you’ll probably do just fine,” Riegsecker says in a video feature celebrating his achievement on spiritplantjourneys website retreat.

Riegsecker got his start in the tourism industry with a shop in Shipshewana that displayed his hand-crafted miniature horse carriages. From that flourished an enterprise that would eventually encompass a restaurant, bakery, theater and shops.

Each year, the Blue Gate entertains about a half million visitors, according to the Indiana Office of Tourism Development’s video. We would say that more than qualifies as “just fine.”

We love Nappanee’s apples

The Nappanee Apple Festival is an annual fall favorite in northern Indiana, but it could be so much more now that it’s in the running for Best Fall Festival in the Best of Indiana voting underway on Visit Indiana’s website.

The festival is up against some tough competition but, in its 41 years, the festival celebrates the apple in all its forms, from tasty treats that you can hold in your hands to the state’s largest apple pie at 7 feet wide.

From Sept. 15-18, the festival will welcome some 80,000 visitors to eat, enjoy a parade and live music, browse craft vendors, and ride the carnival rides.

The voting continues until Oct. 27. Click here to vote.

By the numbers


Amount in initial little BIG Idea Grants awarded to Pumpkin Races, Wacky Gardens and Goshen Rocks for projects meant to inspire love of community in fun, creative ways.

More ideas are needed. To find out more and submit your application, go to www.littleBIGideagrant.com.

Hot Takes: The latest and the greatest

• Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman is inviting everyone to the Mayor’s Apple Challenge, which involves visiting Kercher’s Sunrise Orchards anytime before Oct. 20.

• Love selfies? Have you taken any in these hot spots in Elkhart County?

• Nice piece by Hoosier Gardener columnist Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp in the Indianapolis Star about the Quilt Gardens and Seward Johnson sculptures.

Terry T. Mark is the director of communications and public relations for the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau.